Un innocent presse-bouton: Pour une histoire politique de l’“interactivité” dans les musées de science

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In the last decades, science centers have proliferated, and science communication is more and more mediated through ludic techniques of display that expect from the visitor a bodily engagement with the exhibits that involves more than just looking. Rivers of ink have been spilled on “interactivity”, yet this much celebrated or criticized concept is rarely analyzed in historical perspective. What crystallized connotations are encapsulated in the term “interactivity”? What is the cultural and political significance of the twentieth-century shift towards multisensory regimes of display in museums of science? How is it related to shifts in ideas and practices of governmentality? Many times, the Exploratorium in San Francisco is considered the pioneer of the hands-on approach, usually linked to a “participatory” and “democratic” turn. However, recent scholarship shows that there is a much longer and complex history to be told, and that the link between hands-on display and democratic empowerment is highly debatable. Drawing on these results, this chapter argues for the need to advance towards a political history of “interactivity” and suggests how to approach it.
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationLes mises en scène des sciences et leurs enjeux politiques et culturels (19è-21è siècles)
EditorsAndrée Bergeron, Charlotte Bigg
Place of PublicationParís
Number of pages25
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2025

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